Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fake Neurocritic

Lady Gaga and Her Feminist Meat Dress

Some of you might have noticed a new entry in the blogroll to the right. Or perhaps you've encountered some bizarre posts at another site that uses The Neurocritic's name. What's going on here?

I thought an interview with the two blog authors1 would be informative regarding the creative process behind the fledgling enterprise and the decision to go public with the output.

TN: What is the name of your new blog?

FN: It's currently called The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga, Marc Hauser, and Antidepressants. I like to change the name to fit the current topic.2 It started out as The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga with occasional videos, photos, and commentary. The blog was kept low key because the topic isn't especially neurocentric. Except for the very first post:

Lady GaGa - The Brain

FN: Oh, and...

Neuro Gaga

TN: I see. Why Lady Gaga?

FN: She's a pop culture icon who infuses social trends, products, and even national security with her glamour and weirdness, however contrived.

TN: National security? What are you talking about?

FN: Her name came up during the Wikileaks release of the Afghanistan war logs. The alleged leaker spoke about using her music as a decoy to download secret internal records of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan.

Lady Gaga's Role in the Afghanistan War Logs

Bradass87 [22-year-old intelligence analyst Bradley Manning] suggested that "someone I know intimately" had been downloading and compressing and encrypting all this data and uploading it to someone he identified as Julian Assange. At times, he claimed he himself had leaked the material, suggesting that he had taken in blank CDs, labelled as Lady Gaga's music, slotted them into his high-security laptop and lip-synched to nonexistent music to cover his downloading: "i want people to see the truth," he said.

from Afghanistan war logs: Story behind biggest leak in intelligence history
FN: I actually blogged about this story before Gothamist, MTV, and The Boston Phoenix. However, I did miss the pre-Wikileaks story about the Gaga smuggling ruse in the July 8, 2010 New York Times.

Wow! Do you know if she's commented publicly on this revelation?

FN: I haven't found anything. But here are the direct quotes from Bradley Manning:

"I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like 'Lady Gaga,' erase the music then write a compressed split file,” he wrote. “No one suspected a thing and, odds are, they never will."

"[I] listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga’s 'Telephone' while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history," he added later. "Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis… a perfect storm."

TN: Let's move on to another topic: Marc Hauser. Why did you start to blog about him?

FN: For me (and many others), it was the irony of an expert on morality -- and the author of a book called Moral Minds -- being found guilty of eight instances of research misconduct. And the timing of the breaking news in the Boston Globe (August 10, 2010) relative to his participation in the Edge conference on THE NEW SCIENCE OF MORALITY (July 20-22, 2010) was almost comical. David Dobbs of Neuron Culture has been actively covering the Marc Hauser debacle, and his post Edge corrects — no, make that ERASES — the record on Hauser alerted me to just that fact:
...Today I got a tweet that he’d “withdrawn” his contribution at the Edge conference. I went to the conference-event site to see how Edge had announced this withdrawal … and found he had all but disappeared. Hauser’s talk and photo had been removed. I scanned the page for his talk; gone. Finally I did a text search adn found a footnote to the introduction, in brackets, that said

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Marc Hauser, one of the nine participants at the conference, has withdrawn his contribution.]

TN: At this point, I thought it was important to preserve the video of his talk, so I was able to find cryptic links that led to lectures entitled, "The New Science of Morality - Marc D. Hauser" and "The New Science of Morality - Marc D. Hauser Discussion". I posted these links on the original blog, at 'The New Science of Morality' - Edge videos with Marc Hauser.

FN: What is Edge, and why did you want to make them look bad?

TN: Sigh. [I didn't necessarily want to make them look bad.] Edge is an exclusive intellectual club run by literary agent John Brockman, who gives off the impression of being (1) pompous; and (2) sexist. This is based on (1) his online presence -- photos, hobnobbing with the überwealthy, name dropping, quotes, and profiles; and (2) the number of women he includes in his conferences (e.g., only one of "THE MORAL NINE" in 2010), books (e.g., only 1 out of 23 "original thinkers" on The Third Culture in 1991), and as members of his club.
The mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.
FN: Wow, you sound bitter.

TN: No, not really. His inclusion of women has improved from 4.3% in 1991 to 11.1% in 2010.
Now that's progress!

FN: Perhaps Patricia Churchland and Martha Farah declined invitations to attend the recent morality conference because they had better things to do.

TN: Now you're sounding pretty snarky yourself...

TN: OK. OK, back to Marc Hauser. Ten days after I posted links to the videos, a commenter noticed they had been removed from their hiding place at blip.tv.

FN: That's
when I sprang into action. Prior to their removal, I was able to download both videos and post the smaller of the two, thanks to the 50 MB limit of Posterous:

The New Science of Morality - Marc D. Hauser Discussion

Edge video with Marc Hauser

Missed seeing a key discussion with one of the "THE MORAL NINE" (now "THE MORAL EIGHT") before the video was purged from Edge's website? You can still watch it!

TN: Wow, that's fantastic!

TN: We certainly have covered a lot of ground in this interview. That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much, Fake Neurocritic.

FN: Hey! We haven't covered antidepressants yet! And Marc Hauser and antidepressants together in one post!!

FN: !!! .......... OK then. Thanks for the opportunity. See you soon.


1 The Neurocritic (TN) and Fake Neurocritic (FN) are ACTUALLY THE SAME PERSON!

2 However, The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga portion of the name will remain constant. We've also seen the name The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga and Marc Hauser and The Neurocritic on Lady Gaga and Antidepressants.

Morality Lesson with Marc Hauser + Errol Morris

"How does the human mind know that something is wrong and once it does, what does it do about it?" -Marc D. Hauser

"Morality is the combination of two things: 'I'm sorry, and I'm sorry I got caught'." -Errol Morris

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At September 29, 2010 10:11 AM, Anonymous Clayton Burns said...

Neurocritic: Excellent work on the Hauser Edge video(s). We still do not have the (a) definitive analysis of the first video. Perhaps it would be indelicate to perform such an analysis.

A clue: You may have noted in "Inception" (it tends to become obvious in the second viewing) that there seems to be an invisible wall between the extras (signing someone into a hotel room, for example) and the foreground action. Was the film designed this way? Why? How about the cat and the apothecary?

The "Nature" review of "Inception" (Christof Koch) would be a good place to start. I was puzzled by Hauser's rapid manipulations of his forehead wrinkles in the Edge video. Indicative? Of what?

The Boston Globe has failed to penetrate to the "back rooms" on this story. I have a communication from the very top level of UK Linguistics that would prove quite damaging to the cause of Hauser if I were to release it. I may do so. (This secret document makes the Cambridge Linguistics defence of Hauser look very bad).

BTW--your stuff came up first in Google 24 hours Advanced Search. Magical.

Clayton Burns PhD Vancouver


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